There’s little doubt about the strength in rail data. The numbers continue to come in at a very healthy level on a year over year basis. The latest reading from the AAR shows the highest levels in 2010. 2008 comps remain fairly weak across the board, however:
“The Association of American Railroads today reported that for the week ending July 31, 2010, U.S. railroads reported the highest traffic levels of 2010 for both carload and intermodal traffic. U.S. railroads originated 300,292 carloads for the week, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week in 2009, but down 10.6 percent from the same week in 2008. In order to offer a complete picture of the progress in rail traffic, AAR reports 2010 weekly rail traffic with comparison weeks in both 2009 and 2008. Note that U.S. rail traffic fell sharply in fall 2008, when the financial crisis took hold.Intermodal traffic totaled 232,895 trailers and containers, up 20.2 percent from the same week in 2009, and up 0.9 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 21.9 percent and trailer volume rose 11.7 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume increased 9 percent and trailer volume dropped 28.9 percent.
Eighteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009 with only waste and scrap, down 1.9 percent, posting a decline. Metallic ores, up 73 percent, and metals and products, up 35.2 percent, were the commodities posting the most significant increases. In comparison to 2008, all nineteen commodity groups posted declines.
Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 9.9 percent from last year, but down 13.7 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 9.1 percent from last year but down 8.5 percent from two years ago.
For the first 30 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,461,271 carloads, up 7.3 percent from 2009, but down 13.1 percent from 2008, and 6,318,845 trailers or containers, up 13.5 percent from 2009, but down 6 percent from 2008.”